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Mol Cell Neurosci. 1998 Nov;12(4-5):206-19.

Defective whisker follicles and altered brainstem patterns in activin and follistatin knockout mice.

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  • 1Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02139, USA.


Whisker pad innervation and whisker-specific pattern formation were examined in mice lacking the gene for activin betaA or for follistatin. Both strains of mice die within 24 h after birth. A normal array of whisker follicles is present in the snout of either phenotype. However, activin betaA-deficient mice lack whiskers, and in follistatin-deficient mice the whiskers are thin and curled. We examined the effects of aberrant, albeit innervated, follicles on the formation of whisker-specific patterns (barrelettes) in the trigeminal brainstem. Activin betaA knockout mice lack barrelettes, although the trigeminal afferent topography is not compromised. Physiological recordings suggest that trigeminal ganglion cells in these mice are less responsive to stimulation of whisker follicles. Barrelettes in follistatin-deficient mice are not as well developed as in controls, but can be discerned in some cases. These results are consistent with the notion that formation of barrelettes depends on neural activity initiated by the whiskers.

Copyright 1998 Academic Press.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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